6660 Manasota Key Road
The State Teacher/Artist Residency program (STARs) is presented by the Hermitage Artist Retreat and the Florida Alliance for Arts Education. Come see what these top public school arts educators worked on during their three-week residency at the Hermitage! This program is in the form of open studios, walking from building to building visiting three visual art studios and one music studio. Attendees can also walk on the beach to see the sea turtle nests while they’re at the Hermitage. It’s free to attend the showcase, but reservations are required.
The 2019 STARs teaching artists are: Cheryl Meehan, a visual arts teacher at Freedom Elementary in Bradenton; Robert Constable, a music composition teacher at Crestwood Elementary in Tampa; David Martin, a visual arts teacher at Bonita Springs Elementary in Naples; Julie Orsini Shakher, a visual arts teacher at Dr. Michael Krop Senior High in Hollywood; and Mirena Suarez, a visual arts teacher at Ada Merritt K-8 Center in Miami.
About the STARs
Cheryl Meehan teaches art to about 720 children, grades K-5, at Freedom Elementary in Bradenton. Meehan concentrates on portraits and figures in her own art. Meehan often uses photographs as a reference for her work but is looking forward to painting en plein air at the Hermitage.
Robert Constable has been composing art music for more than 40 years. His music has been performed all over the world and has received many awards. Constable’s plans for his Hermitage residency include finishing a work for acapella chamber choir and starting a piece for two violins and piano.
David Martin (pictured) has been teaching K-5 art at Bonita Springs Elementary but will be teaching high school drawing classes next year. “For many years after the passing of my sister, my artwork focused on grief, death and loss,” says Martin. “My mindset is now changing. I now want to focus on color, shapes and textures with just a hint of ridiculousness. I want viewers to just enjoy the images and get lost in the details. Some people take art way too seriously—to a point where art becomes pretentious and thus ruins the experience.”
Julie Orsini Shakher has been teaching for 29 years in Miami Dade public schools. She is a figurative artist whose recent works are silverpoint drawings, made by dragging a silver rod or wire across a primed surface. During her residency, she intends to create a series called “Magical Forrest” of largescale silverpoint images created on gessoed board.
Mirena Suarez is a Cuban-born artist whose work reflects the reflects “the universal issues of identity, change, connections, and fragility. Through the use of a variety of media, I choose the medium according to the concept of the work and the expressive qualities of the materials.” Suarez uses digital photography, textiles, broken tile mosaic, and drawing.